The 2022 midterm elections are in full swing, and there is nothing that causes friction and clashes on issues quite like an election season. This year, the pile of political issues seems to grow by the day, and each new issue has conservatives and liberals more and more at odds.
There are even a few issues that are creating a fork in the road among conservatives this election season. As major GOP players emerge in 2022, politicians both seasoned and new are taking vastly different stances on cannabis legalization. These differing stances also seem to represent two different futures of the GOP. The midterm elections may help shed light on which type of Republican party voters are looking for moving forward, and also how the conservative base really feels about cannabis legalization.
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One of the most notable GOP candidates when it comes to the future of cannabis and the GOP is Rep. Nancy Mace. Mace has made headlines for many reasons, but most notably for being a conservative who is sponsoring cannabis legalization legislation. The States Reform Act is a bill that would decriminalize cannabis.
Mace faces Katie Arrington in this Tuesday’s primary. Cannabis policy is not the only thing these two clash on. Arrington is backed by former President Trump, while Mace “blamed Trump for the deadly Jan. 6 Capitol riot, ” according to Politico. In fact, Trump has gone so far as to call Mace “nasty, disloyal, and bad for the Republican Party,” according to the article.
While Arrington has Trump’s backing, Mace and her cannabis bill have their own backing. “Mace already has one of the most powerful conservative groups in the world in her corner: Charles Koch’s Americans for Prosperity,” according to Forbes. Mase also has the backing of Nikki Baley, a possible presidential candidate, and Trump adversary. The Mace and Arrington battle is just one of many races where GOP candidates have two very different visions of the future, and each have powerful conservatives forces behind them.
While South Carolina is a classic example of how the GOP is having an internal battle, there are other conservative states where cannabis is coming to the surface in politics. South Dakota, for example, may have its own day of reckoning with cannabis in November.
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South Dakota voters approved a ballot measure to legalize cannabis in 2020, but the current Governor, Kristi Noem (who is up for re-election), shut it down shortly after. While Noem supported legalizing medical cannabis, this year she vetoed further legislation that would remove marijuana-related offenses from a person’s background check. “Even with the legalization of medical cannabis, there must remain consequences for using illegal drugs at a time when the use and possession of marijuana, even for alleged medical purposes, was illegal,” according to her official statement. Noem is also rumored to have her own 2024 presidential ambitions.
Noem will not only face re-election in November, but another ballot initiative. That’s right, there is a new (and improved) cannabis legalization bill on this year’s ballot. That means in November South Dakota voters will be able to definitively voice their opinions on cannabis, and how its legislation has been handled in their state.
Cannabis is just one issue in a year where major American rights are on the table. Still, as certain GOP candidates draw lines in the sand and align themselves on either side of this issue, it will be interesting to see how each state votes. With the current state of uncertainty in the country and in the GOP, November elections may provide some answers as to which direction cannabis legalization is headed in this country.